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My title quotes the opening sentence of the chapter on ‘The civil service’ in A. H. M. Jones's magisterial survey of the social, economic and administrative history of the late Roman empire published in 1964 – a work that still defines the field even after half a century. One might quibble about the emphasis in ‘before all things’, but it is difficult to deny that the late empire demonstrated many aspects of a developed bureaucracy as defined by Max Weber – for example, full-time salaried officials organized into hierarchies of authority, both centrally and regionally, with particular spheres of responsibility and effective communications to ensure cohesion. Members of the administration might not always be exactly aligned with the policies of their imperial masters, as can be seen in the ruse used by Emperor Anastasius (r. 491–518) to abolish the chrysargyron tax, or in the opposition of the praetorian prefect, John the Cappadocian, to Justinian's attack on Vandal Africa in 533. This capacity to resist emperors, however, also meant that administrative structures could survive through regime change, as in the transition from Roman to Ostrogothic Italy in the late fifth century, or the political chaos of the early years of Zeno's reign (late 470s) or the usurpation of Phocas (r. 602–10). The late empire was a territorial state whose frontiers were, in the main, fixed, though this did not prevent the Romans from attempting to exercise authority outside their formal territory, in line with their centuries-old approach to giving orders. Jones's perceptions of the late empire were undoubtedly influenced by the nature of imperial control and organization in the earlier stages of the Roman empire. He, after all, embarked on his study of late Rome after producing authoritative volumes on The Greek city and The cities of the eastern Roman empire, as well as working on the construction of the Roman empire under the first two holders of the title of princeps, Augustus (d. 14 CE) and Tiberius (d. 37 CE).
The early Roman empire has been characterized as ‘undergoverned’ by comparison, for example, with the Chinese empire. This assessment appears in the chapter entitled ‘Government without bureaucracy’ in the authoritative introduction to the empire's economy and society by Garnsey and Saller.
The acts of church councils offer us an exceptionally rich source of information about the utterances and behaviour of large numbers of bishops while engaged in one of their most important duties, namely the collective establishment of orthodoxy and the identification of heresy. They provide examples of Christian leaders in action, not only of individual bishops who in their own cities would be regarded as leaders but in the context of an ecumenical council were overshadowed by their metropolitans or the patriarchs or other key figures prominent in a particular debate, but also of a small number of international leaders. Although the absolute accuracy of council records is open to challenge, with the impossibility of verbatim precision, especially during heated moments, being acknowledged by those responsible for attempting to produce the records, the general impression of the tone and conduct of debates is beyond challenge, while the subscriptions by individual bishops to various decisions also offer insights into how the participants wished their involvement to be registered and remembered.
Episcopal behaviour has recently been the subject of two illuminating studies. The first, by Claudia Rapp, identifies different strands of episcopal authority – spiritual, ascetic and pragmatic –, probes how these were combined to legitimate that authority, and considers how bishops as men of power operated within the evolving economic and social structures of their cities.
To present healthcare-acquired infection surveillance data for 2001-2005 in Queensland, Australia.
Observational prospective cohort study.
Twenty-three public hospitals in Queensland.
We used computer-assisted surveillance to identify episodes of surgical site infection (SSI) in surgical patients. The risk-adjusted incidence of SSI was calculated by means of a risk-adjustment score modified from that of the US National Nosocomial Infections Surveillance System, and the incidence of inpatient bloodstream infection (BSI) was adjusted for risk on the basis of hospital level (level 1, tertiary referral center; level 2, large general hospital; level 3, small general hospital). Funnel and Bayesian shrinkage plots were used for between-hospital comparisons.
A total of 49,804 surgical patients and 4,663 patients who experienced healthcare-associated BSI.
The overall cumulative incidence of in-hospital SSI ranged from 0.28% (95% confidence interval [CI], 0%–1.54%) for radical mastectomies to 6.15% (95% CI, 3.22%–10.50%) for femoropopliteal bypass procedures. The incidence of inpatient BSI was 0.80,0.28, and 0.22 episodes per 1,000 occupied bed-days in level 1, 2, and 3 hospitals, respectively. Staphylococcus aureus was the most commonly isolated microorganism for SSI and BSI. Funnel and shrinkage plots showed at least 1 hospital with a signal indicating a possible higher-than-expected rate of S. aureus-associated BSI.
Comparisons between hospitals should be viewed with caution because of imperfect risk adjustment. It is our view that the data should be used to improve healthcare-acquired infection control practices using evidence-based systems rather than to judge institutions.
In 555 the Roman commander in Lazica, Martin, summoned the Laz king Gobazes II to a conference, ostensibly to discuss an attack on the Persian-held fort of Onoguris but in reality to carry out a carefully prepared plan to murder him (Agathias, Histories 3.2.9–3.4.6); relations had been strained for some time, and Martin and his collaborator Rusticus feared that Gobazes had been sending hostile reports about them to Justinian. The murderers had attempted in advance to secure imperial acquiescence by sending Rusticus' brother John to Constantinople, where, although he had failed to convince Justinian that Gobazes was a traitor, he induced the emperor to summon the king to his presence and to concede that he might be killed if he resisted (Agathias 3.3.2–6). So far the incident appears as a successful example of Roman ‘dirty tricks’, with the Romans actually managing to get their man, but the dénouement is more complex. The Laz contemplated switching their allegiance to the Persians, and, even if Agathias' presentation of a formal debate (3.8.4–3.14.1) is a historiographical convention, there is no reason to doubt that some leading Laz would have been keen to reactivate their links with Persia. Justinian's response was to instruct the senator Athanasius to investigate the matter thoroughly, in accordance with Roman law; John and Rusticus were arrested, subjected to a public trial when a break in hostilities permitted, condemned and executed after being paraded through the streets of Apsarus (Agathias 3.14.4–6; 4.1.1–4.11.4).
Close examination of ancient historical narratives, whose authors' methods and attitudes need to be evaluated, is essential for all reconstructions of ancient warfare. This chapter discusses the problems of this material. The fullest and most regular information about ancient warfare is provided by the sequence of Greek and Latin historians whose accounts of significant public events were usually dominated by military action, but these are complex texts. The dominance of literary convention affected the earliest historians, Herodotus and Thucydides, since they were still subject to the influence of earlier traditions of narrative, especially the Homeric poems in the case of Herodotus. The basic business of gathering information created problems for constructing a clear narrative, both of the chaos of battle and the wider dimensions of warfare; in addition to the 'Whatley' problem of the partial memory of any participants, personal interests of key informants and national agendas must be considered.